Postcard from Beijing: no 12

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Being ‘too Chinese’ is no bad thing

Last month it was reported that Lou Zilin – the current Miss China who will represent the People’s Republic at today’s Miss Universe competition – had packed her bags for the Big Apple, in search of western tips and trainings ahead of the competition.

I can’t help but admire Miss Zilin’s efforts to ensure that, having not won the Miss Universe title in over a decade, China walks away with the prestigious diamond encrusted crown on September 12. However while I salute the determination and drive of China’s contender to the coveted Miss Universe throne, I can’t help but question her direction….

In my mind, the stunning 24 year old shouldn’t have been in New York learning the ways of the Wild West. Rather its America’s youth that should be heading east, for a crash course in all things Chinese. It’s not just Mandarin that western youngsters need to master, but manners and morals too.

Case in point? Pick up any magazine in America and chances are the front cover is celebrating Snooki – star of Jersey Shore, a hit MTV show about a group of crass New Jersey natives whose hobbies include topping up their orange tans, hitting the gym, slaughtering the English language, gorging on junk food, drinking until they fall down and engaging in unprotected sex with a plethora of partners. On you might find Kim Kardashian emblazoned on the cover. Kim, for those of you who have been living on another planet, is the big bottomed reality star who recently wed Kris Humphries in a lavish US$18 million wedding which will soon be screened on E!, as part of a two part special. Her path to fame and fortune, I hear you ask? A very public falling out with former best friend, Paris Hilton (heir to the Hilton throne) and a leaked sex tape with her then boyfriend, the singer/songwriter Ray J.

The UK, my homeland, doesn’t fare much better. In England, children no longer want to be teachers, doctors or bankers. Instead they aspire to emulate the likes of Kerry Katona and Katie Price – if we’re lucky. The riots that engulfed much of the UK in early August, causing destruction and devastation, were the work of unemployed, disenchanted 18-24 years old who seized the opportunity to loot local stores for TVs and trainers.

Of course not all western youths are bad role models and make no mistake: many do make overwhelming positive contributions to society. Similarly, Chinese young people are far from perfect. Lest we forget, China is suffering from ‘Little Emperor syndrome’ or, to put it more bluntly; the country’s ‘one child policy’ has created a generation of spoilt brats. However, having lived and worked in both the west and east, I can conclude that Chinese youngsters are generally more respectful than their western counterparts: family remains their focus, while I fear for what will become of western youth.

Miss Zilin’s mentor, television presenter Yue-Sai Kan – aka China’s answer to Oprah – has reportedly told Miss Zilin (who introduces herself in America, as Rosaline) that she is ‘too Chinese’, with her shy, retiring ways, and won’t win this modern day beauty competition. Under Yue Sai Kan’s tutelage, Miss Zilin might well win the competition which is taking in Sao Paulo, Brazil but, I’d argue that in travelling away from her Chinese roots, Lou Zilin and the world stand to lose …

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